The Chicago Cubs Are the 5th Worst Team in Baseball and Other Bullets

It’s Fri-day, fri-day, fri-day, fri-day … why did that song ever go away?

  • 28-year-old pitcher Fausto Carmona is neither 28 nor Fausto Carmona. He is 31-year-old Roberto Hernandez Heredia, and he has been arrested in the Dominican Republic after trying to renew his visa. It’s unclear whether Heredia will be able to pitch in the big leagues next year (the most recent case like this, Marlins’ reliever Leo-Nunez-cum-Juan-Oviedo, appears to have worked out well enough, as Oviedo was tendered a contract by the Marlins after the identity issue was revealed), and I feel bad for the Indians. This kind of problem could crop up on just about any team. Indeed, it could have cropped up on the Cubs: last year, before acquiring Matt Garza, the Cubs were heavily linked in rumors to the former Mr. Carmona. Whew.
  • Phil Rogers says the Cubs, as currently constructed, are the 5th worst team in baseball. As hopeful as we all like to fancy ourselves, I really can’t argue with too much of what Rogers says. A particularly ugly factoid: “Epstein and Chairman Tom Ricketts are big believers in the value of a deep at-bat, of hitters who can lay off borderline pitches and get a bat on wicked ones, prolonging an at-bat with multiple foul balls. The only two primary Cubs last season skilled at producing those at-bats were Kosuke Fukudome (4.29 pitches per plate appearance) and Carlos Pena (4.13), and they’re not around anymore. Darwin Barney and Starlin Castro, who figure to have the most shelf life of the returning players, were at 3.82 and 3.67, respectively. Among major leaguers with enough plate appearances to qualify for the batting title, Castro ranked 111th of 120. Alfonso Soriano was 114th at 3.65.”
  • Fergie Jenkins was asked yesterday about new Cubs President Theo Epstein, and I can’t decide if Fergie was defending Epstein, or kind of criticizing him: “I really don’t know what to take of him yet. I tried to get a meeting with him and he was really busy …. He’s young. He’s never put a jockstrap on though. See that’s the thing. I tell people all the time ‘this guy reads about the game and has seen it on TV or in stadiums,’ but he’s a pretty smart individual. He knows talent and that’s what it’s all about. People sit back and say ‘you know he never played’ but he watches and recognizes what individuals can do what and where they can play.” Likes Epstein? Doesn’t like him? I really can’t quite tell.
  • Steve Rosenbloom drools out another barely-legible column, telling Theo Epstein that he should try to trade Alfonso Soriano to Detroit in a package with Matt Garza (brand. new. idea.). In doing so, he drops this: “F’rinstance, paying some sucker to take Carlos Zambrano and getting a broken left-hander in exchange is value.” Protip, Steve: get an editor who knows something about baseball. Zambrano was traded to the Marlins for a healthy right-handed pitcher named Chris Volstad. This is not an obscure fact.
  • Ryan Braun pleaded his case yesterday in the hopes of having a 50-game performance-enhancing drug suspension overturned. It’s believed that Braun argued he didn’t knowingly take a PED (which is not really a defense) and that there was something wrong with the test (which is a good defense, but is exceedingly hard to prove). We’re not aware of anyone successfully overturning such a suspension, so we’ll see what happens.
  • Fluff on top prospect Brett Jackson. Pretty much everyone in the organization thinks he’s awesome. Now you know.
  • Sammy Sosa’s skin is still getting lighter, which is odd and modestly notable, but not really something I’m comfortable making jokes about. But, like, there it is.

Brett Taylor is the editor and lead writer at Bleacher Nation, and can also be found as Bleacher Nation on Twitter and on Facebook.

55 responses to “The Chicago Cubs Are the 5th Worst Team in Baseball and Other Bullets”

  1. Fishin Phil

    Well, if Phil Rogers says we are the 5th worst team in baseball, I think we should just forfeit all our games and save everyone a lot of heartache.

    Phil put the douche in douchenozzle.

  2. Cubbie Blues

    Castro has the ability to foul good pitches off. The problem is that instead of fouling them off he puts them in play (he also puts his bat on many a ball out of the zone). With more at bats under his belt and continued instruction he should be able to turn that around.

    Edit:

    Dangit Phil, I was trying to be the first to post for once.

    1. DocWimsey

      What Castro really needs to do is simply take those pitches for balls. Indeed, on the Sox, the players didn’t foul off lots of pitches: they took or they ripped. Lots of walks, lots of K’s, lots of extra base hits and lots of runs scored.

      1. oso

        I think he should just hit home runs with those pitches.

  3. JB88

    Well, since we are likely to be bad in 2012, what does the 2013 draft look like? Anyone I should start paying attention to 17 months in advance?

  4. pfk

    Interesting post in that when I woke up this morning I was thinking about how the Cubs now stack up against other clubs and I felt that this team as currently configured will lose somewhere around 90+ games next year and, if they trade Garza, a good chance at losing 100. I’m still optimistic that Theo & Co. know what they are doing but wow, this is one lousy team right now. I’ll take it as long as the future looks bright, which at this point, is still debatable. More depth in the minors than before but still few standouts. I’ll just have to keep trusting.

  5. Smitty

    Looks to me that Fergie is a little ticked that the new regime hasn’t shown him some love and given him some face time. That is how I take his quote.

  6. david

    In all fairness to the Cubs, the fifth worst ranking was probably made before the Rodrigo Lopez signing.

  7. Clark Addison

    Brett, you deserve combat pay for actually reading a Rosenbloom rant. It’s the equivalent of a literary root canal.

    1. Pete

      I live in St. louis and have to read the terrible writers here but, my goodness, how did Rosenbloom ever get (and keep) a column? Literally every time I have read him I am lefting shaking my head.

      1. Lou

        What’s even worse is that he hosts a regular morning radio show on Saturdays. Yikes.

  8. Troy

    Castro is 21 Freaking years old what do you expect?

    1. Andrewmoore4isu

      Are we sure his name is Castro and 21? Serious question

      1. hansman1982

        Have you ever seen Castro and the number 21 in the same room? Didn’t think so.

        1. ferrets_bueller
          1. hansman1982

            Well then, Castro is not 21.

  9. JasonB

    All facts are obscure to Rosenbloom. He only sees what his jaded pea brain mind wants him to see.

  10. die hard

    So my long standing plea to trade Castro for 3 solid every day players if he is not moved to 2B or OF if want to contend in 2012 has been heard is now supported by stats….and Fergie hit nail on head as to why Theo will never be a long term success as he has never played and at best may catch lightening in a bottle once or twice like he did in Bos…Tidrow or someone of his big league experience would have been better choice as argued many times here …well at least this may prompt Cubs to slash tkt prices and concession prices if they want anyone to be in the stands after the All Star break when Cubs are 25-65….but as stated before, Ricketts is using the Bain Capital model here and his long term plan for the Cubs is more sinister than disclosed and he may not want stands filled anymore…connect the dots to what Theo is doing to construct this team and Cubs may be history by end of Theo’s contract

    1. dooglass

      You were always borderline unreadable, but you just jumped the shark. I will no longer waste my time reading your comments.

    2. cjdubbya

      Really? “the Cubs may be history by the end of Theo’s contract”? What part of the organization is in shambles and needs massive work do you not understand? Wow.

    3. Dave H

      To quote an infamous poster here : “Good-Bye”

      1. Cubbie Blues

        See that MG? You skipped famous and went straight to infamous.

    4. cls

      The counter-point here, is that just because a player has played the game of baseball doesn’t mean he is any better at evaluating talent or making business decisions as to how to build a team. It means they played the game of baseball. That’s it. Once you stop being a player yourself, and start sitting in the press box, you see the game at a distance just like everyone else.

    5. scorecardpaul

      diehard you really aren’t as funny as you think you are

    6. Tommy

      Nobody wants to see you find another way to fit Bain Capital model into your freakin’ comment. We are not impressed with your intellect or wit.

  11. Ivy Walls

    Let me start with Rosenbloom. As you know I have been in sports news rooms and I never actually ran into a sports reporter who put on a jock strap beyond their required high school gym class. As for this kind of drivel that often gets actual newsprint ink and placed in some library archive on some forgotten microfilm it is why informed sports fans find sites like these…first and foremost. Yes there are a few good beat writers in Chicago, but most are opinion-ators who seek to spike sales as Rogers is the king of the Midwest hill.

    Now for something real, Fergie…he was actually thinking off the top of his head without a stated agenda. It matters little if a baseball exec has ever put on a professional strap or merely knows how to tie a tie, what matters if his decisions in executing a strategy to put on the field a WS contender. Talent is only part of it, and developing talent is just another piece, it is also creating a Cubs winning identity—culture or expectation. Athletes tend to always despise the decision-makers, be they coaches (managers), or suits & ties, What appears to be unstated is Epstein’s cold and calculated effort to deconstruct the Cubs current veteran roster for the sake of going younger very fast.

    As for find a new home for Soriano I think this will actually happen. Cubs will make it an attractive $$ deal, where dreams of HR’s for $3-$4M will be in heads of a new home. Last night I actually realized that once the Cubs get rid of Soriano and send $14M (+/-) Soriano could be traded again from the team along with the cash from the Cubs and his trade value will be relative to his production at that cost. So a Detroit could rent him for a season as Martinez recovers (or not) and next year trade him again (w/o restrictions). The next team could rent him again and if he eventually is DFA’d in 2013 or 2014 the cost is relative to $3-4 risk. As for the Cubs replacing Soriano with a $480K player is actually a salary gain.

  12. ferrets_bueller

    partyin’ partyin’ yeah!
    partyin’ partyin’ yeah!
    fun fun fun fun….

    Goddamnit, Brett.

  13. ferrets_bueller

    The Fergie thing bothers me, because I like Fergie. But what he just said shows a belief in the stupid ‘Good old boys’ mentality that pervades so much of sports. His age means nothing, his background means nothing. Completely irrelevant. The whole thing is ridiculous. He watches the games or reads about them? So does every other GM, they’re not exactly playing it right now. Even if you just played little league, you can potentially have substantially more baseball knowledge than a major leaguer.

    And Rosenbloom….puke. The man is the epitome of a complete moron. Die Hard is more qualified to write a column.

    1. WGNstatic

      The odd thing, to me, about Fergie’s comment is that GM’s who are former players are definitely the exceptions, not the norm, and this is not really even a new phenomenon. If the discussion were regarding managers being former players or not that would be different.

    2. WGNstatic

      hmm…
      Have you ever seen die hard and Rosenbloom at the same time?

      I’m not saying… but…

    3. hansman1982

      Agree, not a fan of Fergie’s comments. I heard someone (it wasn’t a random caller, but rather a reporter or someone else of respectability) rail against the BCS because you can’t have computers making the decisions, you need people in a room looking at tape in order to determine the national champion. Pretty sure we got rid of that when they created the BCS because the “humans in a room” method didn’t work.

      So Fergie, because you put on the jock, would that make you a better PBO than Theo?

    4. DocWimsey

      The problem is that great athletes usually do not think much about their sport: they just do it. This comes up with the many players who know nothing about the history of the game, but it also comes up in that the players often do not really recognize what won a game. They see only the one or two plays at the end, and forget all the plays that got the game to that point. For example, someone’s “clutch” hit or catch in the 7th or 8th won the game: and everything up to that point that made the game close enough for a 7th inning run to matter is forgotten.

      Fergie is really bad about this when it comes to complete games. He goes on and on about how “in his day,” pitchers were proud to complete games, etc. He never mentions that, “in his day,” many of the dominant teams (A’s, Reds, Yankees, Dodgers) were the earliest teams to use closers. People who stood back (or, hades forfend, used stats!) didn’t miss that….

  14. Oliver dehart

    We should wait 2months before we evaluate the team.
    I’m certain Epstein has more moves up his sleeve.
    If Soriano is not traded , put him at 1st base, the
    Rookie to left. Switch our 2nd baseman & SS.
    Trade Byrd for some reasonable minor leaguers
    Sign Garza to a 3 year extension
    That said , prepare yourself for a down year
    If we are lucky 71 / 91. However it will be very
    Exciting to watch. Faster, unpredictable, with a little
    Better defense. Rogers evaluate in July.

    1. Doug

      Sori at 1st Base??? Do you really want to see him take that little hop every time the ball is thrown to him? kind of hard to keep a foot on the bag when you do that. He would have to swipe tag every runner. LOL

    2. Wilbur

      Other than Sori at first base it seems quite plausible. Regardless, I think your projection for next year is generally accurate, but I have them at 75 wins.

  15. rcleven

    I see Rosenbloom may have skipped the bong and gone straight to the crack pipe.

  16. Guancous

    Dear die hard,

    Please stop sullying everyone’s memories of a classic movie with your nattering gibberish.

    Yours truly,

    The Bleacher Nation Community

  17. Dave H

    Here is what I would love to see:

    1] Sign a minimum of 1 of the Cuban players.  Two would be astonishing.  I’d prefer the pitcher.

    2] Trade Garza ( see above)

    3] Set the infield with Stewart(3B), CASTRO(SS), Winner of ST(2B), and Lahair(1B).

    4] See how our new coaching staff works with the youngsters.  We definitely cannot play long ball this year.  Smart base running and bunting will help the kids being pressured into trying to hit a homerun.

    5] Outfield will have Soriano in it – fact.  He is a great presence in locker room from what I have heard and it will be needed in wrigley.  I really don’t see him leaving.  So if he has to stay, make him realize that he will be probably playing 7-inning games and will have a lot more off days.

    This front office is working feverishly to repair all facets of the organization.  It’s not going to happen overnight.  I like the moves they have done so far.  Ones that I haven’t understood, have been explained by other posters here on this great website.  The “old days” are just that.  This is a new era and a new approach.

    Thank god.

  18. Mike

    Better Defense – How do you figure that?

    Carlos Pena is much better a defender than LaHair
    DeJesus might not be an upgrade from Fukudome??
    Third Base. I do not think so
    We still have Alfonso in Left.

    I think you are correct in 71-91 would be a great year for this team

    1. Wilbur

      Defense should improve as any combination of gloves the Cubs have immediate access to at third far exceed Aram, Byrd will have more range in CF and any CF sub is better than he is, Sori will be platooned in left and any platoon partner far exceeds his defense, Sveum will teach defensive skills to Castro and then actively coach him on his defense through the season.

      The “improve Castro’s defense” project is never projected to create a top league defender, but good coaching with any receptive player can drastically improve positioning, concentration, and reduce dumb errors/throws. If Castor is a future MLB star, and we all hope he is, this year should show positive growth in areas such as his pitch selection at the plate and his work in the field. Real stars show gradual skill improvements as they mature, if he is as good as he appears he will make one of those year to year upward trends as he goes from 2011 to 2012.

      The idea of flipping Barney and Castro is also intriguing, but that’s a pretty serious change that is more likely projected to how well Castro improves his SS play than anything else. A good fielding SS that hits like Castro is very valuable. Castro would likely lose value if moved to Second Base.

  19. OlderStyle

    Fergie lost me at “put on a jockstrap”. That’s pretty tired stuff. technically, Theo played college ball but I guess MLB jocks are special.

  20. mysterious4th

    I honestly like theo and company. He may not have played ball but he has a natural eye for the business side. He has his on the large picture!

    As for Garza, do you think he asked for as high as he did to actually complicate a future trade. Its seems like he possibly just pushed away all teams with his asking price. Maybe they can work on an extension. I love this guy. He can def lead a rotation. He is a long term player unlike sori or dempster.

    1. Ryan

      Ask for as much as you think your worth. You had a decent year and with the way the Cubs are talking its going to be tough for them to go in front of an arbitrator and degrade him in an effort to win this case. Plus if you get what you want you have created a base for next years arb case if you don’t have a long term contract and you establish a base for dollar figure you want in a long term deal

  21. Rochester, NY Cubs Fan

    With the signing of Rodrigo Lopez, the 2012 Cubs roster is starting to remind me of the Indians team in “Major League”. I guess it’s anyone with a pulse right now.. Are Theo and Jed in their office looking at a list of possible players and saying “I thought this guy was dead”? What’s next? The top pitcher from the California Penal League.

    1. Ryan

      HA HA HA

    2. Tommy

      I hope you’re right. The Indians won it all in that movie!

  22. J.B. House

    Did anybody see that hot stove cubbies is again reporting Dempster for Hughes………..What the heck?

  23. ottoCub

    Cubs 2012 Line-up:

    1. David DeJesus – RF
    2. Marlon Byrd – CF
    3. Starlin Castro – SS
    4. Bryan LaHair – 1B
    5. Alfonso Soriano – LF
    6. Ian Stewart – 3B
    7. Geo Soto – C
    8. Blake DeWitt/Jeff Baker – 2B

    Bench:
    Darwin Barney
    Jeff Baker/Blake DeWitt
    Tony Campana (or Dave Sappelt)
    Reed Johnson
    Wellington Castillo

    This line-up probably won’t score a lot of runs, except against other teams’ number 4 and 5 starters. So the pitching is going to have to be good!

    Starters:
    1. Matt Garza
    2. Ryan Dempster
    3. Paul Maholm
    4. Randy Wells
    5. Travis Wood

    Relievers:
    Jeff Samardzjia
    Kerry Wood
    Andy Sonnanstine
    Casey Coleman
    Carlos Marmol
    Scott Maine
    James Russell

    The potential is there for a strong pitching staff, but a couple guys are going to have to have bounce back years (Maholm, T. Wood, Sonnanstine) for that to happen.

    It looks like a 75-win season, tops.

    Trade Garza in June for some top-line pitching prospects. Bring up Jackson, Rizzo, and Vitters and let them play!

    Bring on 2013!

    1. BetterNews

      I think your wrong about 2nd base. I think Barney will be the man there. I also don’t see Wells in the starting rotation. I think Smarj or Volstad will be #4, or #3.

      1. jerry

        WOW. i finally agree with something better news says.

  24. Cubsin

    I like your lineup, except for using DeWitt/Baker ahead of Barney at 2B – defense matters. But I have to believe keeping Casey Coleman ahead of Volstad was an oversight on your part.

    1. ottoCub

      I’m looking forward to the 2012 Cubs. They’re going to be a younger, hungrier, scrappier, smarter team. It’ll be fun to watch them play.

      Yeah, I completely forgot about Volstad! Thanks for the reminder. Hopefully he can be a tall right-handed dominating 7th-8th inning replacement for Sean Marshall (or even better, I agree with BetterNews that he might have a rebound year as the #4 starter).

      I also agree that it would be great to see Samardzjia as a starter. But I can also see him being a strong 7th-8th inning shut-down guy (á la Kerry Wood). Or maybe a closer? He’s certainly got the personality and ambition to close.

      As for second base: It seems like Barney is the obvious choice going into Spring Training. But I hope that Sveum gives DeWitt a chance. He’s by no means a home-run monster, but he’s got more power than Barney, and the Cubs are going to need someone who can hit the ball deep every once in awhile. Barney has always struck me as best suited to be a solid utility infielder coming off the bench, and this might be the year he moves to that position.

      I could definitely see Baker getting starts at third (and at first) against lefties.

      1. Skinner

        Not to be a total killjoy…but this team is almost certainly going to lose as many games, if not more, than last year.

        I believe we’ll see better attitudes. I believe we’ll see, in some respects, better fundamentals, what we won’t see though, on the whole, is better baseball. Not yet. We’ll see flashes, but it’s going to take time.

  25. gratefulled

    ottoCub is pretty spot on for this part of the year. But, I also believe that Barney will win the majority of games at second, and Baker will rotate at 3rd.

    I don’t give a schlitz where Phil Rogers has the cubs rated. I can watch this team and get behind this team. I am looking forward to where the Cubs are going and I’ll be along for the ride.

    I’m not sure why, but I have a feeling that with d-bag a-ram gone, Sorriano will have a somewhat productive season. Plus, with the departure of d-bag and Zambrano, the only super ego we have is in the front office, where it belongs.